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The Waterstones Roundup: July's Best Books

Posted on 19th July 2019 by Martha Greengrass

From the Sweet Sorrow of first love (as only David Nicholls can write) to the blistering power of Lisa Taddeo's lauded debut, Three Women, discover the highlights of July's scorching new reads.

Fiction

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A decade after his phenomenal bestseller One Day, David Nicholls returns with a bittersweet and brilliantly funny coming-of-age tale. Told over one life-changing summer, it explores - with genuine tenderness - the transformative impact of first love in an ordinary life. An expert at evoking what it truly feels like to be young and alive, Nicholls' novel promises to be something very special.
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One of the great contemporary crafters of character, Anna Hope returns with an electric study of friendship, frustration and the curveballs that life forces you to negotiate. Expectation charts the dreams and disappointments of a group of East London women, with heart, wisdom and unwavering truthfulness.
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With macabre elegance and a finely tuned gothic sensibility, Alix Nathan weaves the strange, sinister story of a restless lord of the manor, a desperate semi-literate labourer and a deranged experiment in extreme isolation. Richly evocative of the zealous rationalism of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment, The Warlow Experiment is an unforgettable literary chiller.
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A mercurial comic stylist and former Booker Prize winner, Jacobson is at his most tender-hearted in this sprightly account of pensioner passion and life’s last chances. Wickedly funny and emotionally acute, Live a Little is another winner from a literary master craftsman.
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Deborah Moggach, one of the keenest observers of human nature in contemporary fiction, returns with a heart-warming, poignant and wickedly funny novel about the overwhelming onrush of old age. With a light touch and wry humour, The Carer is about family, frailty and how the people we think we know the best can still always surprise us.
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Infused with the same compassion and humanity that made Five Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain so enchanting, Barney Norris’ latest novel details the chance meeting of a man and a woman and the unexpected, quietly enthralling relationship that develops between them. Rich in the nuances and complexities of human interaction and desire, The Vanishing Hours is an understated triumph.
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Woozy, bold and seriously funny, I am Sovereign plays all manner of meta-fictional tricks with the novel form and comes out the other side in triumph. Teddy bear-obsessives, pretentious estate agents and injured Chinese homebuyers are flung together in a magic realist odyssey of stunning ingenuity.
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A poised, delicate novel about isolation, both enforced and voluntary, and the unexpected connections people make at their most vulnerable. Based around an unconventional love triangle and set in both New York and London, Starling Days interrogates ideas of ennui, loneliness and alienation in shimmering, sophisticated prose.
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Once more Santa Montefiore hits the sweet spot for perfect summer reading. Arethusa Clayton’s dying wish is for her ashes to be scattered in a remote corner of Ireland; a desire that nobody in her family understands given that she has lived on the East Coast of America for years. But Arethusa’s last request unlocks a mystery about her past that her daughter Faye is determined to solve.
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A tale of creative and romantic obsession set against the backdrop of the thriving Bauhaus scene, The Hiding Game brilliantly evokes the political tensions of the Weimar era and the conflict between art and encroaching Fascism. Gripping yet sophisticated, it is a novel of eloquent power.
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Crime & Thrillers

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Jo Nesbo’s twelfth Harry Hole mystery is a game-changer for the acclaimed series. An encounter with an old enemy sets the stage for a white knuckle ride more terrifying and disorientating than anything the maverick detective has had to face thus far. Knife is an unmissable instalment for fans of Nordic noir’s master craftsman.
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Lapena reveals another civilised neighbourhood with a host of darks secrets festering under the surface. From anonymous letters to cold blooded murder, something is very wrong in this particular suburb, as Someone We Know ratchets up the tension to unbearable levels. Nobody does it better.
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The third installment in this exciting and atmospheric crime series really gets under the skin of maverick detective Aidan Waits, with a descent into nightmarish noir courtesy of an expiring serial killer. Knox does hard-boiled with a scintillating modern slant that hooks the reader from the first page.
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Built upon a premise so simple yet so ingenious, Adrian McKinty takes the reader on a chilling journey into the darkest recesses of the human heart and asks exactly how far you would go to protect the ones you love. A stark, unputdownable standalone thriller from the author of the Detective Sean Duffy series.
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A dual timeline thriller with an atmosphere redolent of The Secret History, Musso’s sinister novel works its insidious way under the reader’s skin with an ominous tale of childhood disappearance and desperately suppressed secrets. Already highly acclaimed in his native France, Musso is an exciting voice for English language readers to encounter.
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Science Fiction & Fantasy

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A collection of science fiction stories for people who don’t like science fiction, Chiang’s work abounds in philosophical enquiry and nuanced approaches to the human condition. Fantastically rich and varied, the pieces gathered in Exhalation are every bit the equal of his groundbreaking first collection, Stories of Your Life and Others.
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Del Toro’s 2006 movie seamlessly blended gothic horror, historical drama and psychological thriller into one unforgettable whole, and this novelisation - a collaboration with the great children’s author of the Inkheart series - pulls off exactly the same trick. Darkly fantastical and richly rewarding, Pan’s Labyrinth is an exquisitely produced book to treasure forever.
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Offering glimmering echoes of Gormenghast and Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, Andrew Caldecott’s Rotherweird novels are a festival of arcane delights. As Geryon Winter makes his last play for power, Lost Acre brings the fantasy trilogy to a thrilling conclusion.
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Set in the universe of Cixin Liu’s Three-Body trilogy, this officially sanctioned spin-off preserves the philosophical inquiry and rounded characterisation of the original books whilst bringing Baoshu’s own formidable skills to the table. A bravura tale of intergalactic redemption.
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Wanderers takes the reader on a journey through a crippled America, where an army of sleepwalkers may hold the key to a mysterious epidemic that is claiming the lives of millions. Wendig’s writing is astonishingly consistent throughout the novel’s 800 pages, with the humanity he brings to his huge cast complementing the disturbing twists and turns of the narrative in the most rewarding fashion.
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History & Politics

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Louis XIV dominated his age as no other European monarch could, his name a byword for the opulence of Versailles and the autocracy of absolute monarchy. Mansel’s definitive portrait of the Sun King is a monumental work of research and scholarship that shines a piercing light not just on the flawed, charismatic individual, but on his entire era.
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£20.00 £16.99
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Probing a shocking yet long neglected aspect of Nazi defeat in World War II, Huber’s German bestseller unlocks the macabre mysteries of the wave of mass suicides which afflicted the nation following Hitler’s defeat. Insightful, meditative and provocative, Promise Me You’ll Shoot Yourself is a uniquely compelling account of the bitter aftermath of military defeat.
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The powerful yet precarious lot of a government minister is analysed in this astute and entertaining account of one of the most misunderstood jobs in Westminster. Culled from dozens of interviews with both current and former ministers, Riddell recounts some fascinating stories of incompetence, skullduggery and, occasionally, inspired brilliance.
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Biography

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A riveting exploration of female sexuality and desire, and the often yawning chasms between enticing fantasy and cruel reality, Three Women is suffused both with erotic yearning and raw honesty, and serves as a vital document of twenty-first century sexual politics.
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Unique and utterly engrossing, Traces is part rhapsody for the natural world and part lecture on forensic science. With clarity and lyricism, Professor Patricia Wiltshire demonstrates how a deep understanding of both is integral to the success of crime solving, as well as providing fascinating details from her own personal history.
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Science & Nature

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A spellbinding book overflowing with tantalising trivia about the wonderful workings of the solar system, The Secret Lives of Planets conveys Murdin’s enthusiasm for his subject matter on every page. The astonishing deep-space stories of the planets are brought to vivid life in this gem of a volume.
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A staggeringly radical and wide-ranging work for any author, let alone one who is a centenarian, Novacene posits Lovelock’s hypothesis that we are at the dawn of a new age, where artificial intelligence will bring forth entirely fresh beings. Controversial and provocative, this groundbreaking book from an environmental pioneer is a hugely significant work.
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Following in the footsteps of Russia’s greatest writers, Sarah Wheeler journeys from the Caucasus to Siberia in an attempt to understand how the nation’s creative canon informs the lives of twenty-first century Russians. Mixing contemporary social comment with literary analysis, Mud and Stars is an enlightening examination of how past art shapes future politics.
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